Sales for the month, adjusted for seasonal variation, holiday and trading-day differences but not price changes, climbed to $459.8 billion, a 2.7% increase from the year-ago period. Total sales from July to September were also up 2.4 percent from the same period last year, and non-store retail sales were up 0.3% in the month and increased 10.6% from September 2015.
The sales climb is the highest in three months, hitting right on the median prediction forecasted by 77 economists surveyed by Bloomberg. “The combination of solid job growth, while slowing, modest pickup in wages, and pretty good measures of household net worth should continue to push consumer spending up over the next year,” David Berson, chief economist at Nationwide Insurance, told Bloomberg.
With 10 of 13 major retail categories enjoying gains, September’s report shows a resurgence in U.S. consumer demand for household products, and it should give retailers confidence going into the holidays.
The brightest spot in this report is certainly non-stores like Amazon and other e-commerce players, which as a category increased sales more than 10% over the year-ago period. By comparison, department stores suffered a 0.7% sales setback just this month, and a 6.4% fall in year over year sales.
Sales for building material and garden supplies dealers like Lowe’s and Home Depot rose 1.4% in September, while sporting goods, hobby, book and music store sales enjoyed the same lift, and furniture and home furnishing sales rose 1%. Clothing and accessories sales hit a plateau after the category rose by 0.7% in August — the highest rise in the category all year. Electronics and appliance sales suffered a 0.9% drop, health and beauty sales fell 0.5% and general merchandise sales dropped 0.4%.
The Commerce Department report lends credence to recent forecasts anticipating solid retail sales growth this holiday season. The National Retail Federation forecasts sales in November and December to increase 3.6% year over year to $655.8 billion — a significant boost over the 10-year average of 2.5%. In addition, the International Council of Shopping Centers projects that holiday sales in stores will rise 3.3% in the next two months, up from a 2.2% increase in the year-ago period.